"...Phoebe, it's time. Your time allotment is over, and as a result, so will your work visa here in Hong Kong. It is time for you to go home." My voice is authoritarian due to the change in Phoebe's body language. I enter CEO mode and rightfully so. I am talking to my daughter as her boss. This was the deal. Two years and not a day more. Regardless of my role as CEO, there is an excitement in my voice. It is a father's joy, knowing he will have his only daughter back on home soil and where it doesn't take half a day of traveling via jet to see her. I am a father and husband first and foremost. Phoebe belongs back in Seattle.
"Okay. I have just had the heads of agreement contracts signed on the Chu project. I need to get this project underway and then I will be home. Give me four weeks. I will be back for the Coping Together ball, and enough time for Ted to prepare to have to take me on day by day." Phoebe smiles and giggles humoured at her last comment. A very deliberate move on her part. Phoebe is aware that she smiles and laughs just like her mother and it's one of my greatest weaknesses.
"What do you have planned?" As the CEO I already know the answer to this question. The Chu project has been Phoebe's pet project, but as the CEO everything goes through me in some fashion.
"Exactly as I have outlined in my numerous emails, phone calls, and Skype sessions. I intend to amalgamate its manufacturing branch into GEH's current operations here in Asia. I want to retain the telecommunication section and make structural changes to improve its profit and loss statements. Within a year it can be out of the red with the right management. The remaining sectors can be sold off."
"So you are going to go into these particular branches and make the changes first hand?"
"No!" Phoebe looks at me as if I am going out of my mind. My daughter might have inherited my business skills, but I have something that she doesn't have yet, more than three decades of experience. "Of course not. I am going to allocate my people to the branches and have them make the changes as I direct. I am going to oversee the whole operation."
"I concur with your plan. None of what you intend to do requires you to be situated here in Hong Kong. You can direct this operation from a distance, and Bryan is present. Currently, he is your eyes and ears here and will remain to do so." Phoebe looks horrified. She is going to have to work on controlling her expressions and not putting it on display for everyone. It is a flaw in business.
"I don't need to tell you how advanced telecommunications is and you will be more than adequate and efficient in Seattle. Distance won't matter, and should you need to, you can fly out here periodically."
"While everything you have said is valid, being present will make the process more efficient. Dad, you were the one who taught me the economic and business benefits of adopting a plan that allowed for dynamic and technical efficiency. A time difference of sixteen hours decreases this efficiency. I would draw you several economic models, but you already know what I am referring to. This is half a billion dollar project, after all." Phoebe stresses. While I accept that we are talking about a significant amount of money, I would throw it all away to have my family back together living closely again. I won't need to of course. We have dealt with multiple projects around the world from the Grey House. I run my hands through my hair. I can't believe that I am having this conversation. My daughter has always been methodical and ambitious that I thought she would be eager to get back to Seattle. Maybe even challenge Ted as the heir apparent.
"Phoebe, just over two years ago when we discussed the agenda for your assignment here in Hong Kong, you were given strictly two years to achieve a set of goals which you have met and more. You are young, and there are even more challenges for you to sink your teeth."
"I know but.."
"Princess you should be excited to return home. I though Ava was going to stow away on the jet to come and get you. Your best friend is eager to have you home. She misses you, as do your friends. Not to mention your mother, grandparents and whole family. "For the first time, since we entered her office, Phoebe looks away and doesn't maintain eye contact. She has adored living in Hong Kong, but we all know that she misses having family around. Currently, it is her Achilles heel.
"I miss Ava, Mom, Grandma, Grandpa and everyone too. I want to see them." While Phoebe is being honest, she is yet to say that she wishes to leave. Obviously, there is far more to the story. Her body language speaks volumes. Phoebe isn't making eye contact, she is touching her face, and she is stiff. "It's just that I have put so much work into this branch that I don't want to leave, at least not abruptly. When am I supposed to leave actually?"
"You mean next week?"
"You can't be serious? In two days?"
"Yes. I have instructed your housekeeper and security to make the necessary preparations. You will need to talk to them should there be anything you don't wish to take back to Seattle. Is there anything specific?" I query trying to determine if something here in Hong Kong is holding Phoebe from leaving right now. Ana and Phoebe talk at least once every two days. Ana has Phoebe's confidence and as a consequence is told everything, though I am not privy to the entire content of their conversations. I do receive Security reports but was forced to be denied to know everything that was happening in my children life's years ago.
"I don't know." Phoebe's voice falters slightly, but she then straightens up and looks me in the eye. "I will have to go home and check over my belongings." My lips naturally form a hard line. I need to change the direction of this conversation. Knowing my daughter as I do she is about to close herself off.
"Dinner," I state.
"What are your plans for dinner? You are far too skinny!" This is no over exaggeration. Phoebe is naturally too thin, like her mother. Ana. Just thinking of my beloved wife makes me miss her even more and I haven't even been away from her for a whole day.
"I have been working out too much. That's all. I do eat."
"Good, then you can eat with me tonight. I will pick you up at seven. Is there any specific restaurant or area you want to go to?"
"I get a choice?" Phoebe has cocked her head to the side just like I do. I thin my lips and fail to reply. "I will have my assistant book a table at the Lung King Heen""
"Good. I need to go. I have a meeting to attend to. I will see you this evening." Phoebe nods slightly. I walk over to her and kiss her forehead. "Trust me, Phoebe, coming back home is the best thing for you." I carefully watch my daughter's expression, and it doesn't change. I wait for her to say something, anything, but it doesn't come. I look at her lovingly and offer her my warmest smile. It's a smile that comes easily when I am with Phoebe. I sigh quietly to myself and walk out of the office. There is more to this story than I know. I wonder what Ana knows and hasn't told me.
As soon as my father walks out and closes my office door. I breathe out. I wasn't aware that I as holding my breath. Shit! I should have planned for this. I should have put procedures in place to delay my departure. I got so carried away working on this project, being here in Hong Kong that ... at the back of my mind did I expect this? Or was I crazy enough to believe that the two years were not set in stone?
I don't know how long I remain standing still in my office, but I only become conscious of my surroundings when Bryan re- enters.
"Yeah.. umm.. Bryan.. oh..my coffee. Thank you." I pretend to have regained my composure, following the philosophy fake it until you make it. It's been a long time since I had to follow it, but necessity requires it.
"Can I talk out of turn?"
"Sure. You know I prefer honesty." I take my coffee and walk to my desk, sitting down in my plush leather chair.
"Your father. Christian Grey has a... presence."
"That's one way of saying it." I take a welcome sip of my coffee. It's bold, strong and hot.
"While you were talking to Mr. Grey, I got an email from Ted Grey in regards to overseeing the operations of the office here and that I am to continue to be directed by you." Bryan holds out his phone for me to read the email.
"Congratulations Bryan. You are ready to take the lead here in the office! You will be my eyes and ears, and report back to me in regards to any developments or issues in regards to our projects here. I will ensure that you will be adequately compensated and assigned a new duty statement."
"Wait, so this is serious?" Bryan looks shocked.
"Surely you don't think this was some twisted joke?" I roll my eyes.
"In a way. I thought maybe it is something that Ted might do to prank you... though Christian Grey wouldn't travel all the way to Asia just for the sake of a joke." I don't blame his confusion. My family is incredible but difficult to understand at times. "Phoebe you love living and working here in Hong Kong. You don't want to go. Do you?"
"It's the deal I made. Two years. My time is up."
"So you are seriously leaving?"
"Apparently." The truth is I don't think I will have any choice in the matter, especially if my visa isn't going to be valid anymore. The email application on my Mac Book beeps diverting my attention. At first, I suspect that it's a message from one of my family members or knowing how Grey Enterprise works, my personal assistant back in Seattle making plans for my return. I breathe out relieved when it's a reminder of the live conference feed to the head of the finance division of Grey Enterprise on Monday. Looks like I will be present now. Damn!
"Phoebe, we have known each other for years and worked side by side for the past two years. We have been attached at the hip professionally and friend wise. As well as you can hide your emotions, when you wish, to everyone else in Hong Kong, you can't with me."
"There is nothing to hide. I don't want to leave, but have little choice. My position here in Hong Kong has come to an end and so will my work visa as a result. I made a deal." I respond resigned to the fact.
"Okay I am calling bull shit on you. There is something that is keeping you from going back to Seattle. Something I doubt you have told anyone and it's time to confess or let it off your chest. Now!"
"Take a seat. You will need to sit down if you want to hear this."
A/N: Okay readers time to speculate what is either keeping Phoebe in Hong Kong or what's in Seattle that means she doesn't want to return.